Paris Goes for the Gold with Gay Games X

Paris Goes for the Gold with Gay Games X

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The Eiffel Tower lit up in a rainbow with the message #lovewins
The Eiffel Tower lit up in a rainbow with the message #lovewins

“Gay Paree” is currently super gay because more than 40,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender athletes from around the world have descended upon the “City of Lights” for Gay Games X.

The gay athletic competition will feature 36 sports such as bowling, ballroom dance, golf, track and field, sailing, pétanque (France’s version of bocce ball), and more August 4-12.

“I think that people are really going to enjoy being in Paris,” said Emy Ritt, 63-year-old lesbian who is the participation and international relations director of Gay Games X.

Emy was co-president of the Federation of Gay Games for six years prior to the joining the Gay Games Paris’ 14-member team to produce the estimated $7 million event.

She told Girls That Roam when we visited in 2016, a month after registrations opened, that Gay Games and Paris’ philosophies align. Gay Games believes in participation, inclusion, and personal health, she said, which fits neatly with Paris’ mantra, “liberty, equality, fraternity” and values of diversity, respect, equality, solidarity, and sharing.

The Gay Games were founded by the late Dr. Tom Waddell, a former Olympian, in San Francisco in 1982. Like the Olympics, the Gay Games happen every four years and cities around the world bid to host the games. The Federation of Gay Games, which oversees the event, vets the bids and selects the host city.

The next Gay Games is set to take place in Hong Kong in 2022. The closest the games ever came to being hosted in Asia was in Sydney, Australia in 2002.

The games are open to every adult – gay and straight – and everyone age 18-years old and above.

“In Cleveland, we actually had a 99-year-old runner. She was there with her 55-year-old daughter and she ran the 100-yard dash at her own pace,” said Emy. “She broke the world record at that age level.”

“In Cologne, we had an 85-year-old man doing back-flips from the high dive,” she added.

Emy Ritt / Heather Cassell
Emy Ritt / Heather Cassell

Emy also noted a large number of 18-25-year-olds who compete in the games.

“We love young people,” she said.

The games kick-off August 1 with a more intellectual look at sports and LGBT rights leading up to Opening Ceremonies August 4. There will be 14 cultural events from café talks to a memorial quilt exhibit to gay-themed guided tours of the city to musicians performing at “key offs” throughout the city and concerts at the Sport Village at the City Hall Plazza.

Paris is one of the capitals of fashion, so it is only fitting that there will be a fashion show during the games.

The games begin August 4 with Opening Ceremonies at Jean Bouin Stadium and end with Closing Ceremonies at the City Hall Plazza August 12. Gala events will follow both ceremonies.

Parisians and American expatriates pulled out all the stops to create a memorable games with the help of Gay Games 9 host city team Cleveland.

Emy credited Cleveland’s team for producing an incredible Gay Games 9 in 2014 and for helping Paris’ Gay Games organizers for continuing to set the bar for the event.

The City of Paris and France donated many of the venues and the event has received support from Paris and France’s tourism bureaus among other sponsors and donors, she said.

Participants and fans will be fashionably adorned in Gay Games attire for playing at new and historic venues throughout the city and surrounding areas by the games ambassador fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier.

“It’s a life-changing experience. I think for those who have already been to a Gay Games they can always remember their first Gay Games like it was yesterday,” said Emy.

Something For Everyone

My girlfriend will leave me in Paris to entertain myself with all the things I didn’t do on my list – including gaying it up – during our first encounter with the City of Lights, while she attempts to go for the gold playing golf at Versailles.

Queer women travelers looking for all things lesbian, bisexual, and transgender won’t have a difficult time as Paris turns gay in August. For those who want to explore the city beyond the sports and festivities, they can find all things to do in the gayborhood, Le Marais; the lesbihood, Rue Des Les Ecouffes; and the trans neighborhood, Montmartre; to the Gay Games village and beyond.

I will use at parisparais.com and download Damron’s Gurl Scout app for the latest happenings in “Gay Paree.”

Throughout the 12-day event non-sporty participants can enjoy cultural events including intellectual pursuits to tours to café discussions to films to more physical activities such as running a marathon to hiking during the day. At night, the parties will begin from Opening Ceremonies to Closing Ceremonies there’s a party for nearly everyone.

I’m excited about Ladies Night, the all-women party, on August 8, and the river boat tour on the Seine River on August 10. I also plan to go to Opening Ceremonies, visit the village, and take the Lesbians of the Left Bank tour.

Lesbian nightlife can be found along the Rue Des Les Ecouffes in the Jewish Quarter of Paris, France. Credit: Time Out Magazine
Lesbian nightlife can be found along the Rue Des Les Ecouffes in the Jewish Quarter of Paris, France. Credit: Time Out Magazine

The City Beyond Gay Games

When I’m gayed out, Paris offers many things to do, especially for first-timers to the City of Lights. Armed with my Paris Pass, I will revisit the “Mona Lisa” at the Louvre as well as the impressionists at the Musee d’Orsay and climb the steps to Sacré-Cœur and wander through the maze of streets to the Moulin Rouge with our friends.

This is the year, I’m going to get to the Arc de Triumph and the Champs-Elysees as well as the haunts of Coco Chanel and Julia Child’s Paris.

“There’s lots to see in Paris for both women and men,” said Emy. “Paris is a beautiful city and a wonderful city. We know that you will have a great time rendezvous (sic) in Paris.”

Book your next Parisian escape with Girls That Roam Travel in association with Travel Advisors of Los Gatos. Contact Heather Cassell at Girls That Roam Travel at 415-517-7239 or at trips@girlsthatroam.com.

Originally published by Girls That Roam.

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